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Frequently Asked Questions

Updated June 9, 2020

Thank you to all who joined us for the Online Community Meetings. Links are below. 

Community Meeting for UMD Doctoral Students

Community Meeting for UMD Master's Degree Students

Community Meeting for UMD International Graduate Students.

Current Students

Coping Support

Question: What support is the Graduate School offering to help students cope with COVID-19?

Answer: The Graduate Academic Counselor is available to consult with students (and faculty/staff) about mental health. They can provide referrals to campus and other resources. Contact them by e-mail here.The Graduate School Ombudsperson is available to all students with questions or concerns related to their graduate experience. They can help resolve conflict and promote fair and equitable treatment within the university.

Question: Do I have to leave College Park and return home?

Answer: You do not have to return home. If you wish to return home for the remainder of the semester, we encourage you to do so. But if you wish to remain in off-campus housing, please observe Governor Hogan’s Stay at Home Order and recommendations for social distancing.

Thesis & Dissertation Defenses

Question:  How do I submit a request for a remote thesis or dissertation defense?  How long does it take to respond?

Answer: Please have your advisor complete the form at  go.umd.edu/gs-rrd. We are reviewing these in a very timely manner and will get back to you quickly. If you have any questions about your submitted form, please email graduate-dean@umd.edu.

Question: I see the Graduate School has a policy about remote thesis and dissertation defenses. But what if I am defending my dissertation proposal?

Answer: The prospectus defense is a program requirement, not a Graduate School requirement. The Graduate School recommends that programs follow the same guidelines for remote defense for the prospectus defense. There is no need to request permission from the Graduate School, but directors of graduate study should ensure equitable and consistent treatment of all students in their programs. 

Question: I'm uncomfortable with a remote thesis or dissertation defense. What are my options?

Answer: All defenses are remote, at least through the summer semester. Committee chairs need to complete this form. We encourage you to consult the KeepTeaching website, and our guide to conducting remote defenses. All graduate students who are ready to defend should defend this semester so that they don't incur additional tuition costs or delay their graduation.

Question: What if a graduate student needs to delay their thesis or dissertation defense for a semester? Can the Graduate School waive the fees and tuition? Can academic deadlines get pushed back?

Answer: The Graduate School recommends proceeding as scheduled rather than to defer defenses. The deadline for submission of dissertations was April 21 for Spring graduation; the deadline for master’s theses was April 28. We understand that it may be difficult for all students to meet these April deadlines. Students who defend and submit their theses and dissertations and all supporting documents by May 29 will graduate in Summer 2020 without needing to register for Summer 2020, and will incur no additional tuition or fees.

Students who are unable to meet the May 29 deadline and who wish to graduate in Summer 2020 will be required to register for one credit of 799 or 899. Students must defend and submit by July 31 (dissertations) or August 14 (master’s theses). We have worked with the Office of Extended Studies to make a credit of 799 and 899 available at no cost to students who had applied for a Spring 2020 graduation but whose defense or submission was delayed by the coronavirus crisis. Academic units should email summer-sched@umd.edu with the instructor and student UID# and an explanation of the circumstances. 

Academic and Professional Support

Question: What kind of academic support is still available to me? 

Answer: We are moving as many of our programs and services online as we can. The Graduate School Writing Center has moved all of its appointments online through May 12. They are also holding Drop-In Hours on on Wednesday and Thursday from 12-3pm on Zoom. No advance registration is required:  https://umd.zoom.us/s/4854575635 

Doctoral students and postdocs can access career development related resources, events, and individual appointments online. 

Students and postdocs should use the following online resources and services to support their career exploration and job/internship search:

If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Susan Martin, by email: smarti18@umd.edu or phone: 301.314.5916. 

Courses and Grades 

Question: Do I have an option other than letter grades for spring, 2020 courses? 

Answer: The new policy for Satisfactory/Fail Grading for Graduate Courses is at go.umd.edu/GSSatisfactoryFailGrading. All graduate courses in spring 2020 will be graded satisfactory/fail (S/F) unless the student elects to receive an earned grade for the course. Students will have the opportunity to choose to receive an earned letter grade in one, some, or all of their courses (rather than the default S/F) until 11:59pm, May 31, 2020. If you are satisfied with your current grading choices, you need not do anything. However, if you wish to receive a letter grade for a course, you will need to visit the website: https://app.testudo.umd.edu/#/main/gradeoptions?termId=202001 before the May 31 deadline and designate that choice for each course for which you have not yet indicated your wish to receive your earned letter grade. There will be no further extensions beyond that time, so please make your selection carefully and in time to check and be sure that all changes were successfully made as you intended. Faculty will not know if a student has chosen to receive a letter grade. 

Question: I want to withdraw from a class but I missed the deadline.

Answer: The University has moved the deadline for students to drop a graduate course with a "W" to May 12, 2020, the last day of classes for this semester. All students considering a change should consult an academic advisor in their program. This change also extends the deadlines for changing grading mode and changing credit level to May 12. The Registrar has updated their calendars and deadlines accordingly:

Research 

Question: How will my research activity be affected?

Answer: Consult research.umd.edu/news/news_story.php?id=12905, which will be updated by the UMD Division of Research if circumstances change.

Question: I am a graduate assistant at an off-campus laboratory/workplace. Do the UMD guidelines around COVID-19 for graduate assistants apply to me? What about if I have concerns about my work and the outbreak?

Answer: The Graduate School advises graduate assistants to discuss their concerns or situation with their supervisor. Guidance about telework and leave, social distance measures for those who will continue to work on campus, and other related workplace issues, is outlined in University Human Resources' Working Through COVID-19

Question: Can I still go to campus and use my lab as a quiet place to work?
 
Answer: Not necessarily, and not without permission. Access to buildings needs to follow the same guidance, procedures, and safeguards currently in place for everyone. Graduate students should monitor research.umd.edu/covid19 for updates on campus status and use the same processes as faculty for requesting access during times of restricted research activity.

Graduate Assistants 

Question: Will the campus hiring freeze affect Graduate Assistants. 

Answer: The hiring freeze does not apply to graduate assistantships, and the Provost has stated that departments should honor all written commitments to provide a graduate assistantship (GA). If you have been offered a GA appointment for next year, it may go forward as planned. Please check with the person who offered the GA to make sure funding for the appointment is still available. All graduate assistants must reside in the United States at the time of the appointment.

International Students

Question: I am an international student, how will all of this affect me?

Answer: Please visit the ISSS' FAQ page for updated answers and resources specifically related to your needs and concerns as an international student.

Question: Can international students, as well as domestic students currently living abroad, hold a graduate assistantship if their teaching or research duties can be performed remotely?

Answer: No, you must reside in the United States to be appointed as a graduate assistant. Contact your graduate program to inquire about whether you are able to continue coursework and thesis or dissertation research while you are abroad and, if so, if your program is able to offer assistance to cover the cost of tuition. For other immigration and visa questions, please contact International Student & Scholar Services.

Financial Concerns 

Question:  I am having trouble accessing and affording food. Are there any resources for me?

Answer:  The UMD Campus Food Pantry is here to help! For more information on how to access the pantry, please go here: www.campuspantry.umd.edu/.  

Question: I am having a hard time financially. Is there anything available to support me?

Answer: Please visit www.crisisfund.umd.edu/gethelp.html for information on how to apply for emergency assisttance.

Question: When will I receive my subsistence payment?

Answer: The Financial Service Center is still processing subsistence payments for Graduate Students, but since the campus mailing system is not fully operational, and the Office of Student Financials and Cashiering is closed to the public, graduate students who do not currently have direct deposit will need to sign up for direct deposit to receive those payments/refunds. Students can enroll in direct deposit through the website https://billpay.umd.edu/refunds.

Fellowships, Awards & Competitions

Question: I applied for a travel award from the Graduate School. Will I be reimbursed if I don't attend the conference?

Answer: First, seek a refund of any registration or travel expenses.  If your expenses are non-refundable, please contact your department or program about reimbursement. The Graduate School will share the cost of reimbursement with your department or program for the Goldhaber awards. The Graduate School will reimburse the cost of non-refunded conference registration fees for the ICSSA awards.  

Question: What is the status of the 3MT Competition?

Answer: Of the five 3MT College-Level competitions, three have been held, and the remaining two will occur remotely. Students scheduled to present in the Campus-Level final-round 3MT competition originally scheduled for April 8th can submit a self-made video of their three minute presentation. The review panel will review the videos for content, not the quality of the video production.  

Question: When will other fellowship and award competitions take place?

Answer: As of now, all Graduate School Fellowship and Award competitions will take place as scheduled. Notifications of awards will be sent to students and their advisors by mid-April.

Faculty & Advisors 

Question: I am a faculty member advising a graduate student doing research and teaching abroad. Do I need to require that student to return to the United States?

Answer: Anyone abroad should follow the CDC recommendations, which are summarized at umd.edu/virusinfo. The guidance related to Education Abroad is most relevant to students who are overseas for other purposes.

Applicants and Incoming Students

Question: I am an international student who has been offered admission to a graduate program for Fall 2020. What will happen if travel restrictions are still in place, or if I am unable to obtain a visa?

Answer: We know there is great uncertainty around the future of international travel and visas. We cannot predict at this time what the impact will be, but please rest assured that the University is actively working on a range of strategies to support all of our international students. We will keep you updated as information becomes available.

Question: Do graduate programs and applicants still need to adhere to the April 15 Resolution?

Answer: Following guidance from the Council of Graduate Schools, the April 15 Resolution remains in effect for applicants admitted to University of Maryland graduate programs. Specifically, applicants who received offers of financial support have until April 15 to decide on whether to accept the offer. Graduate programs can make offers of admission and of financial support after April 15, as long as the decision deadline is after April 15, 2020.

Question: What do I do if I want to defer my admissions for fall 2020 to a later semester?

Answer: You should email your program for details on deferring admission.

Question:  I want to apply to the University of Maryland and I need to submit an English proficiency score, but testing centers for the TOEFL, IELTS, and PTE are closed in my area.  What can I do?
 
Answer:  During the COVID-19 Pandemic we will be accepting the TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition and the IELTS Indicator as we would accept a regular iBT TOEFL or Academic IELTS.  These tests can be taken online from home.
 
If you are from Mainland China we understand that you can not take either of these special exams, and so we are accepting the TOEFL ITP Plus for China.
 
If you are from Iran we understand that you also can not take either of these exams.  The Maryland English Institute is therefore planning to remotely administer a TOEFL ITP exam for applicants in Iran in mid-July.  If you would like to take this exam, please send an e-mail to mvanson@umd.edu by June 30th at the latest.  The Maryland English Institute will then reach out to you with the date and time for the exam and all other information.  
 
The TOEFL ITP exam has a total score of 677.  A score below 560 requires placement in Intensive English.  A score between 560 and 589 requires placement in the English Bridge Program.  A score of 590 or higher only requires placement in an Advanced English Writing course in the second semester at UMD.  Unlike the TOEFL iBT or IELTS, the TOEFL ITP does not have a writing section which is why placement in the writing course would be given instead of full admission.  We do not have any minimum sectional score requirements for the TOEFL ITP.